With the Super Rugby season starting this weekend, Christopher Reive takes a look at six New Zealand players to keep an eye on.

Etene Nanai-Seturo - Chiefs

Etene Nanai-Seturo will have the chance to make an immediate impact for the Chiefs in the 2019 season. Photo / Getty Images
Etene Nanai-Seturo will have the chance to make an immediate impact for the Chiefs in the 2019 season. Photo / Getty Images

The highly touted young speedster will get his first opportunity in Super Rugby when he starts for the Chiefs this weekend against the Highlanders. With just a handful of Mitre 10 cup games to him name, Nanai-Seturo will be thrown in the deep end to see if he sinks or swims. Still just 19 years old, the Commonwealth Games sevens gold medallist has the opportunity to announce himself as a force in the 15-a-side game this year.

Josh Ioane - Highlanders

Josh Ioane has been handed the keys to the Highlanders offence. Photo / Getty Images
Josh Ioane has been handed the keys to the Highlanders offence. Photo / Getty Images

The question of who will replace Lima Sopoaga in the Highlanders' No10 jersey has been answered, with 23-year-old Ioane handed the reigns - at least to begin the season. With Bryn Gatland and Marty Banks also in the Highlanders system this year, Ioane will be motivated to perform to hold down his position. He showed some positive signs in limited time for the Highlanders last season, and starred for Otago in the No10 jersey during the Mitre 10 Cup season.

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Karl Tu'inukuafe - Blues

Karl Tu'inukuafe joins the Blues after a breakout year with the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images
Karl Tu'inukuafe joins the Blues after a breakout year with the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images

Yes, Karl Tu'inukuafe is an All Black and announced himself as one of the strongest scrummagers in Super Rugby with the Chiefs last year. His meteoric rise in 2018 from a Chiefs injury replacement to All Blacks starting prop was a welcome surprise to many rugby fans, but what does 2019 hold for him? With a new team, it's likely he'll be battling to hold his place in the All Blacks for the World Cup with the likes of Chiefs prop Atu Moli - who is back and healthy after a haematoma in his leg and looking to reclaim his spot in the All Blacks squad. And he's not a secret anymore - everyone knows what Tu'inukuafe is capable of and he'll have a lot of eyes on him.

Vince Aso - Hurricanes

Vince Aso has shown continual improvement over his time with the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty Images
Vince Aso has shown continual improvement over his time with the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty Images

Let's go ahead and throw young Vince into the plethora of options the All Blacks selectors will have to choose from come World Cup selection time. The 24-year-old had a breakout year in 2017 and was set to push on in 2018 before a wrist injury ended his campaign. In a strong Hurricanes back line, Aso will have plenty of opportunities to show his speed, strength and defensive ability, and could very well be a dark horse in the hunt for World Cup consideration.

Will Jordan - Crusaders

Can Will Jordan make an impact for the Crusaders this season? Photo / Getty Images
Can Will Jordan make an impact for the Crusaders this season? Photo / Getty Images

For Will Jordan, it's not a case of if he'll shine in Super Rugby, but whether or not he'll get the opportunity to do so. Named Tasman Player of the Year in the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup season after a stellar campaign with the Mako, Jordan will hope he doesn't have to spend another season watching from the sidelines at Super Rugby level. The 20-year-old fullback has all the tools required to succeed at the next level and should Mitchell Hunt and David Havili be unavailable, Jordan might make it hard for them to reclaim a starting role.

Bonus: Ma'a Nonu - Blues

It's no secret almost every Kiwi rugby fan will be keeping an eye on how Ma'a Nonu is tracking. The 103-test All Black returns to Super Rugby this year after a stint in Europe and while he hasn't specifically said he's come back for another shot at playing at the World Cup - the timing of his return screams it. Now 36, many will be interested to see if Nonu possesses anywhere near the same level of power and speed he displayed in his prime. The word out of Blues camp is he's still a wrecking ball, but time will tell if that form on the training paddock translates to the playing field.